Sick climber leaves McKinley, heads home

Posted: Monday, May 14, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Mount McKinley climber who suffered acute mountain sickness so badly that he was unable to walk last week made it safely off the mountain and caught a red-eye flight home to South Korea on Sunday, the National Park Service said.

Young Tak Chin, 23, left the 14,200-foot ranger camp Saturday after being treated with bottled oxygen and medication since Wednesday, when he and seven other Korean climbers reached the camp along the West Buttress route. The group had climbed faster than the recommended rate, something that can lead to altitude sickness, according to Park Service officials.

Two other climbers in the group became ill before Chin and descended Wednesday with the help of another climber, officials said.

Climbers are encouraged to ascend 1,000 feet a day to allow their bodies to adjust. Chin and his team climbed about 7,000 feet in about five days.

Chin's symptoms led a medical adviser to believe he suffered pulmonary edema -- a sudden buildup of fluid in the lungs -- and cerebral edema, a buildup of fluid in the brain.

About 1,280 men and women are registered to climb 20,320-foot McKinley this year.

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